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|300: Rise of an Empire|
dir Noam Murro
scr Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad
prd Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder, Mark Canton, Bernie Goldmann, Gianni Nunnari, Thomas Tull
with Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Rodrigo Santoro, Hans Matheson, Callan Mulvey, Jack O'Connell, Andrew Tiernan, David Wenham, Andrew Pleavin, Christopher Sciueref, Ashraf Barhom
release US/UK 7.Mar.14
14/US Warners 1h42
No shirts required: O'Connell and Stapleton
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
If you loved 2007's Spartan romp 300 you're bound to enjoy this spin-off, even if there's even less character or story depth. Loud and brutal, this movie is so stylised that you can't take anything seriously as it trawls through another bit of Greek history with no subtlety whatsoever.
As Spartan King Leonidas (a briefly glimpsed Gerard Butler) leaves Queen Gorgo (Headey) to lead his 300-man army against Xerses (Santoro), Greek General Themistocles (Stapleton) is preparing to take on Xerses' military commander, the viciously vengeful Greek-turned-Persian Artemisia (Green). Themistocles' key officers are Aesyklos (Matheson) and Scyllias (Mulvey), whose son Calisto (O'Connell) has snuck onto a ship to join in the first sea battle. But this is nothing compared to the two further watery skirmishes that follow, as Artemisia gets increasingly inventive in dispensing death and destruction while Themistocles tenaciously outfoxes her.
The film opens with a complicated voiceover that sets the scene, explains Xerses' and Artemisia's inner demons and shows that the events of 300 are taking place simultaneously. Using a variety of accents, the main actors try to inject Shakespearean heft into the soggy dialog, but the characters remain resolutely one dimensional. Stapleton's hero has presence but no oomph, letting Green walk off the the movie using her wry grin and relentless glowering. Crowds of soldiers are irrelevant as anything but battle fodder.
Visually the film is murky, with an egregious use of both slo-mo and shaky-cam, as well as floating water drops, embers, blood, dust, soot and lint wafting through every single shot. There's never a doubt who's good or bad. Aside from the fact that all Greeks die heroically, the black-hooded Persians whip their slave rowers to within an inch of their lives, while the beefy Greek rowers are happy and tanned, even though the sun never actually cracks through the ominous clouds.
Meanwhile, Braveheart-style pronouncements remind us this is all about "Freedom!" But the effects are never much more than cartoonish, which is a problem since all of the action revolves around three increasingly hysterical sea battles, including clearly digital soldiers, horses and carnivorous eel monsters. But in the end, it's little more than torso porn. And a set-up for another sequel if audiences fall for the trick again.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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